Here we go again. Another session of the Oregon legislature; another misguided attempt to undo the voter's banning (twice!) of using dogs to hunt cougars.
And once again, legislation in search of a problem to justify it. House Bill 2624, introduced by Rep. Brian Clem of Salem, would let counties out of the statewide ban if voters in a county approved this.
Yet nobody has ever been killed by a cougar in Oregon. Cougar complaints are declining.
Opponents called the bills unnecessary because complaints of cougar encounters are down while cougar kills are up, according to state statistics. They said the bills would undo the will of voters, and they questioned the state's ability to count cougars accurately.
Scott Beckstead, Oregon director of the Humane Society of the United States came armed with data from the state that show a steep decline in the number of cougar complaints, from a high of 1,072 in 1999, to 287 in 2012. Over the same period, the data show, the number of cougars killed by hunters has risen from 157 to 242.
Voters didn't bar cougar and bear hunting, Beckstead noted. And they allowed the continued use of dogs to hunt problem or dangerous animals, he said.
"These bills go far beyond that," Beckstead said. "They allow the use of dogs and bait for sport. The voters of Oregon have said they don't want that."
As I said in a previous post:
Pop quiz: how many people have been killed by a cougar in Oregon? Is it (a) 126, (b) 18, or (c) none.
From all the hysteria over "managing" the cougar population (which really means needlessly killing them), you'd think the answer would be greater than zero. But it isn't.
No one has ever been killed by a cougar in Oregon. Many people have been killed by hunters. So if we're really concerned about protecting human life, there should be a thinning of the ranks of hunters, not of cougars.
Irrational hysteria is the only reason this bill has been introduced. My wife and I live around cougars. I've walked by fresh cougar deer kills. I frequently take walks at night in woods frequented by cougars. I'm not afraid of cougars.
Hopefully legislators will become similarly educated about these valuable top predators before they vote on HB 2624. Just as wolf management shouldn't be based on "big bad wolf" fairy tales, neither should cougar management.
Cougars can't contact Oregon legislators. But you can. Speak for them. Prevent needless killing of these marvelous animals. Predator Defense tells you how to do it. Click on that link. Now.
Even though an April 2 public hearing already has been held, legislators on the Oregon House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee need to hear that people don't want the ban on hunting cougars with dogs, and bears with bait, to be overturned.
Their email addresses are here.